A mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video-game industry.
In 1990, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the video-game industry. Sega, on the other hand, was just a faltering arcade company with big aspirations and even bigger personalities. But all that would change with the arrival of Tom Kalinske, a former Mattel executive who knew nothing about video games and everything about fighting uphill battles. His unconventional tactics, combined with the blood, sweat, and bold ideas of his renegade employees, completely transformed Sega and led to a ruthless, David-and-Goliath showdown with Nintendo. Little did he realize that Sega's success would create many new enemies and, most important, make Nintendo stronger than ever.
The battle was vicious, relentless, and highly profitable, eventually sparking a global corporate war that would be fought on several fronts: from living rooms and school yards to boardrooms and Congress. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, no-holds-barred conflict that pitted brother against brother, kid against adult, Sonic against Mario, and the United States against Japan.
Based on more than 200 interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees, Console Wars is the tale of how Tom Kalinske miraculously turned an industry punch line into a market leader. Blake J. Harris brings into focus the warriors, the strategies, and the battles and explores how they transformed popular culture forever. Ultimately, Console Wars is the story of how a humble family man, with an extraordinary imagination and a gift for turning problems into competitive advantages, inspired a team of underdogs to slay a giant and, as a result, give birth to a $60 billion industry.
©2014 Blake J. Harris (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
Great work. Wonderful narrative and truly remarkable story. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever sat down, put a controller in their hand, and suddenly realized, there is more to life than infinite life codes.
Great performance overall for the audiobook, but props to the writing and documentation of this epic battle between the two grandfathers of the modern video game industry. I really there's a sequel to this book at some point, because there are so many interesting things that have transpired since Sega decided to exit the gaming industry.
This is by far my fav book to date. The author does an amazing job of making these real people and real events of history come alive as if they are characters from your favorite fictional novel. You understand the motivations from both sides and care about what happens to the people involved. Sega may be more of the hero in this telling of events, but Nintendo is far from a villain. Expertly crafted.
Audio book lover with sci-fi leanings
I thought I knew everything there was to know about the competition between Nintendo and Sega during my childhood. However, there are so many more interesting things I never knew about outlined in this book. Mostly told from the perspective of Sega, this one is worth a listen!
This book comes off more as a text-based documentary on the modern day History channel rather than an accurate history book. Blake Harris claims to have done extensive research and over 200 interviews into Sega's war with Nintendo, but it is clear he is trying to create his own narrative rather than a fair and comprehensive historical account.
Harris displays poor historical method by making up quotes and scenarios, not citing sources, creating good guys and bad guys out of historical figures (many of whom are still alive and would not like how they are presented in the book), and by presenting information that is factually incorrect. Let's explore these areas.
At the very beginning of the book, Harris claims that he “altered, reconstructed or imagined” the scenes and settings of the book and has "recreated" the dialogue based on his interviews. Transcripts and citations for these interviews are not provided. It makes everything feel fake, and that is not helped by the bad dialogue.
Sega of America, and Kalinske in particular, is presented as the can do no wrong good guys of the book. Kalinske and the folks at Sega are described as being able to “dream like Walt Disney,” “innovate like Steve Jobs” and “take risks like the mythological trickster Prometheus”. Harris does not attempt to give a fair shake to Nintendo nor does he even try to explain the actions of Sega of Japan in regards to the release of the Sega Saturn later in the book. SoA is never called out upon some of their questionable decisions such as the release of Night Trap on the Sega CD, SoA launching the Sega CD at the unreasonable $300 dollar price point, the poorly timed release of the 32X, and many others.
A good example of Harris presenting factually incorrect claims can be found in his discussion of Mode 7. His claim that the first game on the Super Nintendo to use Mode 7 was Super Mario Kart. However, if Harris had done more than five minutes of research, he would know that the first game to use Mode 7 was F-Zero, a launch title on the Super Famicom and SNES.
The parties that get burned by this book the most are the game makers. Little focus is actually put on the making or quality of the games. Yuji Naka, Sonic the Hedgehog's lead programmer, doesn't even appear until a third of the way through the book and even then, he is only present for no more than four or five pages collectively throughout the last third of this overlong twenty-hour book. Harris does not even explore how Naka felt about the changes to Sonic proposed by SoA earlier in the book. This is indicative of the problems of this book. It is far too focused on SoA's corporate drama that the true pushers and shakers, the makers of the software, are left to rot.
While this story is purported to be an accurate account of real events, the author's writing style is so contrived that the entire production comes off like a Hallmark Channel movie script. is really hard to take this seriously which is a shame because it is a subject I am very interested in learning more about. There are definitely better books on the subject available than this one. That being said the voice actor was actually pretty talented and probably save this from being a one-star book at least from my perspective.
I found the history particularly interesting being in business and living during this period. Initially, I thought the book would be too long, but I couldn't get enough. The history and battle between Sega vs Nintendo was much deeper and intense then I initially appreciated. Would highly recommend if you ever played a Sega or Nintendo and are semi interested in the history or business side.
Highly recommended to those interested in business, technology and video game culture. Fascinating to someone who grew up during the times described .
Fred Berman does an incredible job voicing all the different characters.
Concepts were mostly easy to follow, but the story jumped around a lot and the storytelling was confusing at points despite the amazing narration. Too much time was spent on some parts of the backstory and not enough on others.
Story is almost entirely from Sega's point of view. There are some Nintendo parts but only barely enough to frame the story being told about Sega. Nintendo was largely portrayed as the villain. Even the parts that were supposed to be from Nintendo's point of view felt like they were being told by an outsider. Don't get me wrong; I was a Sega fan and had a Genesis growing up, but given "Nintendo" in the name, was hoping it would not feel so one-sided.
love this book the rise and fall of
the protagonist is fascinating a book you will be unable to stop listening
"as a Sega kid this was awesome"
told from the point of view of Sega. great insight in the rise and fall of Sega
Moves at a fast pace. I enjoyed it. Few up with the consoles as a kid.
"brilliant and well worth a listen."
well worth the credits/money. Brilliantly performed and overall a great listen, not sure I'll find any more better than this.
"Not as poorly told as some would have you think"
An insightful account of politics and history of the men who helped to build the video gaming generation and the tales that brought us to the point we are at today. Listening to this book it is easy to understand why the video game industry is only at the point it is now and that things are frankly not more advanced. It's because of men like the ones portrayed in this book that we are only yet to receive a consumer version of Virtual Reality, and this book and the story it tells, explains why we are at the level we are...
The narrater him self is adept with an excellent array of voices for each of the characters. The style of this book is completely designed to lend it self to a movie rather then a documentary, and thats a good thing as there are other books and videos out there which will give you the documentary style if you want it. A lot of people have spoken out against the script, and while I understand what they mean, I have worked with business men who speak exactly like this. Business men who speak in overly 'cool' ways with no real substance to what they say, but unfortunately this seems to be the way of the business world. If anything the script is quick to get to the point, but if it were drawn out it would take ten years to read it.
"Ruined by the cheesey Americano style"
This is just like a big greasy burger from an American diner, with extra cheese, and nothing but a big milk shake to wash it down. Initially that sounds great, but about half way through it you've had enough, and you realise why there is a problem with obesity in the United States.
I was very curious about the Sega/Nintendo days of the early nineties. Listen to this - which is hopelessly biased against Nintendo by the way - and I'm sure you won't get more than half of the story.
The lack of objectivity irritates after a while. This is purely for the Mega Drive crowd out there. I owned both (Mega Drive and SNES) - and further more over time I owned both the Gameboy and the Gamegear (the latter was hopeless because of the battery issues).
Read this and you would like to think that it was Nintendo, and not Sega, that tanked immediately in the face of the Sony Playstation, and didn't even live to see the entry of Microsoft into the market.
The dialogue between the central characters is so contrived that it couldn't possibly have happened. This is a fictionalised retelling of events that portrays the executives as American style hip shooting, fast talkers who riff with each other verbally. It is like watching an episode of 'Suits' or something as equally awful.
So it is very very sickly.
Plus the narrative performance is so incredibly American that you can only take so much. I think that there are any number of great American narrators - but this voice has everything that makes you want to switch it off. It is all incredibly smug.
"Wonderful insight into a battle of a generation"
As someone who grew up while the battle between Sega and Nintendo was on full force, this book gives a wonderful picture of what was going on behind the scenes to win the hearts and minds of my generation.
The stories form an incredibly engaging narrative and I enjoyed this immensely.
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